Ovid, Tristia 4.10
Ille ego qui fuerim, tenerorum lusor amorum,
quem legis, ut noris, accipe posteritas.
Sulmo mihi patria est, gelidis uberrimus undis,
milia qui nouiens distat ab urbe decem.
editus hic hic m: hac m: hinc m 5 ego sum, nec non, ut ut m: et m tempora noris,
cum cecidit fato consul uterque pari:
si quid id est, usque a proauis uetus ordinis heres,
non modo fortunae munere factus eques.
nec stirps prima fui; genito sum fratre creatus,
qui tribus ante quater mensibus ortus erat.10
Lucifer amborum natalibus affuit idem:
una celebrata est per duo liba dies.
haec est armiferae festis de quinque Mineruae,
quae fieri pugna prima cruenta solet.
protinus excolimur teneri curaque parentis15
imus ad insignes urbis ab arte uiros.
frater ad eloquium uiridi tendebat ab aeuo,
fortia uerbosi natus ad arma fori;
at mihi iam puero puero m: paruo m caelestia sacra placebant,
inque suum furtim Musa trahebat opus.20
saepe pater dixit: ‘studium quid inutile temptas?
Maeonides nullas ipse reliquit opes.’
motus eram dictis, totoque Helicone relicto
scribere temptabam temptabam m: conabar m uerba soluta modis.
sponte sua carmen numeros ueniebat ad aptos,25
et et quod et quod m: quidquid m temptabam temptabam m: conabar m scribere scribere m: dicere m uersus erat.
interea tacito passu labentibus annis
liberior fratri sumpta mihique toga est,
induiturque umeris cum lato purpura clauo:
et studium nobis, quod fuit ante, manet manet m: placet m.30
iamque decem uitae frater geminauerat annos,
cum perit, et coepi parte carere mei.
cepimus et tenerae primos aetatis honores,
eque uiris quondam pars tribus una fui.
curia restabat: claui mensura coacta est;35
maius erat nostris uiribus illud onus onus m: opus m.
nec patiens corpus, nec mens fuit apta labori,
sollicitaeque fugax ambitionis eram,
et petere Aoniae suadebant tuta sorores
otia, iudicio semper amata meo.40
temporis illius colui fouique poetas,
quotque aderant uates, rebar adesse deos.
saepe suas uolucres legit mihi grandior aeuo,
quaeque nocet nocet m: noscet m: necet m serpens, quae iuuat herba, Macer,
saepe suos solitus recitare recitare m: narrare m Propertius ignes,45
iure sodalicii, quo quo m: qui m mihi iunctus erat.
Ponticus heroo, Bassus bassus Scaliger: bacus m: battus m: batus m: luctibus m quoque clarus iambis
dulcia conuictus membra fuere mei.
et tenuit et tenuit m: detinuit m nostras numerosus Horatius aures,
dum ferit Ausonia carmina culta lyra.50
Vergilium uidi tantum, nec auara auara m: amara m Tibullo
tempus amicitiae fata dedere meae.
successor fuit hic tibi, Galle, Propertius illi;
quartus ab his serie temporis ipse fui.
utque ego maiores, sic me coluere minores,55
notaque non tarde facta Thalia mea est.
carmina cum primum populo iuuenalia legi,
barba resecta mihi bisue semelue fuit.
mouerat ingenium totam totam m: totum m cantata per urbem urbem m: orbem m
nomine non uero dicta Corinna mihi.60
multa quidem scripsi, sed quae uitiosa putaui
emendaturis ignibus ipse dedi.
tunc quoque, cum fugerem, quaedam placitura cremaui,
iratus studio carminibusque meis.
molle Cupidineis nec nec m: et m inexpugnabile telis65
cor mihi, quodque leuis causa moueret, erat.
cum tamen hic essem minimoque minimoque m: nimioque m accenderer igni,
nomine sub nostro fabula nulla fuit.
paene mihi puero nec digna nec utilis uxor
est data, quae tempus per breue nupta fuit.70
illi successit, quamuis sine crimine coniunx,
non tamen in nostro firma futura toro.
ultima, quae mecum seros permansit in annos,
sustinuit coniunx exulis esse uiri uiri m: mei m.
filia me mea bis prima fecunda iuuenta,75
sed non ex uno coniuge, fecit auum.
et iam complerat genitor sua fata nouemque
addiderat lustris altera lustra nouem.
non aliter fleui quam me fleturus fleturus m: flecturus m ademptum
ille fuit. matris proxima busta busta M: iusta Heinsius tuli.80
felices ambo, tempestiueque sepulti,
ante diem poenae quod periere meae!
me quoque felicem, quod non uiuentibus illis
sum miser et de me quod doluere nihil!
si tamen extinctis aliquid nisi nomina restat,85
et gracilis structos effugit umbra rogos,
fama, parentales, si uos mea contigit, umbrae,
et sunt in Stygio crimina crimina m: carmina m nostra foro,
scite, precor, causam – nec uos mihi fallere fas est –
errorem iussae, non scelus, esse fugae.90
manibus hoc satis est: ad uos, studiosa, reuertor,
pectora, quae uitae quaeritis acta meae.
iam mihi canities pulsis melioribus annis
uenerat antiquas miscueratque comas,
postque meos ortus Pisaea uinctus oliua95
abstulerat deciens praemia uictor eques eques M: equus Bentley,
cum maris Euxini positos ad laeua Tomitas
quaerere me laesi principis ira iubet.
causa meae cunctis nimium nota ruinae
indicio indicio m: iudicio m non est testificanda meo.100
quid referam comitumque nefas famulosque nocentes?
ipsa ipsa m: ipsaque m: ipseque m multa multa m: in uita m tuli non leuiora fuga.
indignata malis mens est succumbere, seque
praestitit inuictam uiribus usa suis;
oblitusque mei, ductaeque per otia uitae,105
insolita cepi temporis arma manu;
totque tuli terra casus pelagoque terra casus pelagoque m: poenas terra pelagoque m: casus pelago terraque m quot inter
occultum stellae conspicuumque polum.
tacta mihi tandem longis erroribus acto
iuncta pharetratis Sarmatis ora Getis.110
hic ego, finitimis quamuis circumsoner armis,
tristia, quo possum, carmine fata fata m: facta m leuo,
quod, quamuis nemo est cuius referatur ad aures,
sic tamen absumo decipioque diem.
ergo quod uiuo durisque laboribus obsto,115
nec me sollicitae taedia lucis habent,
gratia, Musa, tibi: nam tu solacia praebes,
tu curae requies, tu medicina uenis.
tu dux et comes es, tu nos abducis ab Histro
in medioque mihi das Helicone locum;120
tu mihi, quod rarum est, uiuo sublime dedisti
nomen, ab exequiis quod dare fama solet.
nec, qui detrectat praesentia, Liuor iniquo iniquo m: iniqus m
ullum de nostris dente momordit opus.
nam tulerint magnos cum saecula nostra poetas,125
non fuit ingenio fama maligna meo,
cumque ego praeponam multos mihi, non minor illis
dicor et in toto plurimus orbe legor.
si quid habent igitur uatum praesagia ueri,
protinus ut moriar, non ero, terra, tuus.130
siue fauore tuli siue hanc ego carmine famam,
iure tibi grates, candide lector, ago.
Listen, future ages, to find out who I was, that playful poet of tender loves whom you read. Sulmo is my native land, richest in ice-cold streams, ninety miles from Rome.  I was born there, and if you want to know the date, it was when both consuls perished by the same fate. If it counts for anything, I was heir to a rank of ancient lineage, not made a knight by the gift of fortune. I was not the first child; I was born after my brother,  who was twelve months my senior. The same day-star attended both our birthdays: a single day was celebrated with the offering of two cakes. Of the five days sacred to armed Minerva, this is customarily the first to be stained with the blood of combat.  We began our education at a tender age, and through our father’s care we attended men distinguished in the arts at Rome. My brother gravitated towards oratory from his early years, at home among the harsh weapons of the wordy forum; but I, even as a boy, took delight in the heavenly rites,  and the Muse was stealthily drawing me to her work. Often my father said: ‘Why try a useless vocation? Even the Maeonian (Homer) left no wealth.’ I was moved by his words, and abandoning Helicon entirely, I tried to write words without metre.  But poetry came of its own accord in fitting measures, and whatever I tried to write was verse. Meanwhile, as the years slipped by with silent strides, my brother and I assumed the toga of manhood, and the broad stripe of purple adorned our shoulders,  and our pursuits remained the same as before. And now my brother died at the age of twenty, and I carried on with part of myself missing. I received the first honours of tender youth, and for a while I was one of the tresviri.  The Senate awaited, but I narrowed my purple stripe: that burden was beyond my strength. My body did not have the endurance, nor was my mind suited to the labour; I fled the cares of ambition, and the Aonian sisters urged me to seek the secure  retirement that my temperament had always loved. I cultivated and cherished the poets of that time, and I thought that all those bards were gods. Often Macer, who was much older, read to me his poetry on birds, serpents that harm, and plants that heal.  Often Propertius would recite his fiery verses by right of the friendship that bound him to me. Ponticus, famed for epic, and Bassus also, famed for iambics, were pleasant members of my circle. And Horace of many metres beguiled my ears  when he performed his elegant songs to the Ausonian lyre. I only saw Virgil, and greedy fate did not grant Tibullus time for my friendship. He was your successor, Gallus, and Propertius his; after them I was fourth in order of time.  And as I revered the older poets, so the younger poets revered me, and my Thalia was not slow in finding fame. When I first read my youthful poems in public, my beard had been trimmed only once or twice. She who was sung throughout the city stirred my genius,  the one whom I called Corinna, not by her real name. Much did I write, but what I thought unsatisfactory I gave to the flames myself for revision. Even then, when I was going into exile, I burned certain works that would have won approval, angry at my vocation and my verses.  My heart was soft and defenceless against Cupid’s arrows, moved by even the slightest thing. But although my nature was such, and I was inflamed by the smallest spark, no scandal was ever attached to my name. When still almost a boy I was given an unworthy and useless wife,  my bride for a short time. Though she was beyond reproach, the wife that succeeded her was not destined to remain in my bed. The last, who has stayed with me into my late years, has endured to be the wife of an exiled husband.  My daughter, twice fertile in her early youth, but not by the same husband, made me a grandfather. By then my father had completed his allotted time and added to nine lustra another nine. I wept for him as he would have wept for me had I been taken;  I next carried the remains of my mother. Happy both and buried at the right time, since they died before the day of my punishment! I too am happy, because I suffer while they are no longer living and they did not lament for me!  But if something of the dead remains besides a name and a thin shade escapes the heaped pyre, if, shades of my parents, news of me has reached you and my charges are announced in the Stygian court, know, I beg you – and it would be impious for me to deceive you – that the cause  of the exile imposed upon me is an error, not a crime. That is enough for the shades: I turn again to you, eager hearts, who want to know the events of my life. White hairs had already come and flecked my ageing locks with my better years behind me,  and ten times since my birth the winning rider, crowned with Pisan olive, had carried off the prize, when the anger of an offended prince ordered me to go to Tomis, situated on the left shore of the Black Sea. The cause of my ruin, too well known to everyone,  does not need to be revealed by my own testimony. Why recall the wickedness of friends and the servants who harmed me? I endured many things that were no less painful than exile itself. My mind refused to succumb to evils, and relying on its own strength it proved invincible;  forgetting myself and a life spent in leisure, with unaccustomed hands I seized the weapons of the time; I suffered as many misfortunes on land and sea as there are stars between the hidden and visible poles. At last, after long wanderings, I touched  the shore that links the Sarmatians to the quiver-bearing Getae. Here, though I am surrounded by the din of arms at close quarters, I ease my sad fate with what song I am able; though there is no one whose ears it can reach, so I pass and beguile the day.  Therefore, that I still live and withstand my harsh sufferings, and have not been overcome by weariness of my troubled life, is thanks to you, my Muse: for you give solace, you come as respite from my cares, as a medicine. You are a guide and a companion, you take me away from the Danube  and grant me a place in the middle of Helicon; you have given me, something rare, an exalted name in my own lifetime, which fame usually confers only after death. Nor has Envy, which denigrates the present, gnawed at any of my works with spiteful teeth.  For though our age has produced great poets, fame has not been unkind to my genius, and though I place many before myself, I am not regarded as inferior to them, and throughout the world I am the most widely read. And so, if there is any truth in the prophecies of bards,  I will not be yours, earth, even though I die right now. Whether I have won this fame by favour or by poetry, I rightly give thanks to you, kind reader.